On Sunday, the PDS Boys Varsity Basketball team claimed the NJISAA Prep B State title, defeating defending champions Doane Academy. The Panthers, who finished the season 14-11 overall, beat Doane 64-50 to bring home the trophy. PDS Head Coach and former Princeton University collegiate basketball star Doug Davis celebrated his first championship as a Panthers coach as the team brought home their first championship of the decade (and first since 2016)!
Davis credited an intense schedule for helping them to get battle-ready. “We challenged ourselves throughout the season and our tough schedule prepared us for the moment yesterday,” he explained.
Their heartbreaking 69-63 loss to top-ranked Hightstown in the MCT quarterfinals less than 48 hours before the Prep B title game lit a fire under the Panthers. “When we lose, we learn from our losses. When we win, we can get too comfortable. That loss really made us ready to win this game,” said Davis.
While 18-6 Doane was the top seed, PDS dominated the game, maintaining a lead established in the first quarter as they headed into half-time. In the third quarter, the Panthers began to pull away, outscoring their opponents 15-7. After losing some close games down the stretch this season, often by one or two points, the Panthers began to slow their pace rather than risk another late-game loss even though they were up by 11 points.
“We were holding the ball. I had to remind them that you can’t play with that mindset; you have to play to win and continue to score,” Davis recalls. Gathering the team, Davis emphasized taking smart shots and playing their game, and the players listened. They quickened their pace and continued to find the basket, adding another 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Davis was proud of the Panthers' performance, emphasizing that they “took care of what we needed to take care of.” Heading into the game, he told the players that what he wanted above all was “to have a strong team performance, where all of us are playing really well at the same time.”
This was certainly the case on Sunday, with balanced scoring and consistent effort from every single player. Junior Ethan Granita '21 had a stellar game, tallying 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Jaylin Champion-Adams '20 contributed another 10 points and 6 rebounds, while Jomar Meekins '20 added 12 points and 3 rebounds. Lucas Green '20, Dameon Samuels '21 and Hampton Sanders '23 rounded out the scoring for the Panthers.
“It was really nice for the seniors to be able to end their career on such a high," Davis stated. "They will leave PDS as Prep B Champions. It also gives the underclassman something to aspire towards. I am really excited to see how the program continues to improve.”